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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with michael chiklis, the former star of "the shield," who is once again finding success on primetime with a cop drama called "vegas." it debuted as number one -- as the number one new fall series. a conversation with michael chiklis coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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tavis: pleased to welcome michael chiklis back to this program. the star of "the shield" is back in prime time with tv's most- watched new show, "vegas." the show airs tuesday night at 10:00 on cbs. here is a scene. >> i tailored every last detail. my best room, my best boost -- booze. they let you win. that is because you cannot handle your losses like a man.
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having said that, we took an oath. you want me to take anyone out, i will. i got to admit, i enjoy it. but it is the wrong move. not because he is a decent man, he is not. not because it will come to our side, he will not. if we take him out, best-case scenario, the feds do not come after us, the state does not revoke our gaming license, but we still have two dead sheriff's in one month. tavis: i want to jump ahead. i will explain what the series is about in a minute. you always seem to play these guys who are teetering on the line. you are walking the tightrope. if you are a cop, you are being tempted to cross the line. when you are trying to be a good guy, there is a bible verse that
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says, "when i would do good, evil is present." they are trying to pull you back in. what is it that you love about playing these guys who are walking this line? >> part of it is the way i look. honestly, i gravitate to characters like that. i think they are really interesting. tavis: and complex. >> exactly. i played characters who were white-headed. when i did "the commish," he was a good guy, period. given a choice between good and evil, he would pick good every time. that was fun and lovely and it was great for my mom to watch. in terms of interesting and something to delve into as an actor -- i think that, what we do as actors, we are sort of
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behavioralists. we look at someone and try to walk a mile in their shoes. it is an interesting exercise to try to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see the world through their perspective. vick mackie, from "the shield," i could not have a more different perspective on life than this man. if he was a man who started as an idealist and spiraled into corruption, this is a man who started in corruption and is trying to rise from that mocked and mire of corruption in to legitimacy. a lot of the gangsters of that era came where they were either immigrants or sons or daughters of immigrants who had this american dream of becoming part
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of the establishment. they were willing to do things that were dark in order to -- i was going to say set the pick for their children. tavis: you have been hanging out with the celtics to long. too big a boston fan. >> here it is, wto generations later, and their sons and daughters are legitimately running vegas in a corporate manner. this mob is gone. tavis: you talk about actors walking a mile in the shoes of others and interpret that on the screen. i want ask what your learning by walking in the shoes of a wise guy. before i ask that, i think the president tohat has to be explaining what the series is. you start to do that.
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dennis quaid plays the sheriff. >> which he plays ralph lamb. we had the honor of meeting ralph ilham. he is an incredible maverick of a guy. that word has been destroyed, to a great degree. but he is a real maverick. 86 years old, i would not mess with him today. he is a real tough guy, military police officer turned it ranch sheriff. his family lived in that area since the wars. they came to him and asked if they could help him to solve a crime. he ended up taking a job as a sheriff in vegas when there were 15,000 people living there. from the time he became sheriff or last 20 years -- over the next 20 years, his reign, if you will, over 3 million people
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moved into that area and millions of dollars. when you have that influx of population and money, stuff is going to happen. people are elbowing for position, vying for power in this burgeoning place called vegas. and it exploded. guys like my character came from -- nick said something interesting, he called it "the u.n. of the mob." families from all over the country. what they did was stop their flag in the sand in the form of a hotel and casino. they had to interact in a way that they had never had to interact before because they had this city's separating them and they had to interact with the local law enforcement and local government. the local government is going, what is going on here? vegas was part of nevada and
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utah were mormon. the center of power used to be in salt lake city. it is still, to a degree. it was frowned upon. there was gambling and prostitution down there. with all this money, i think the folks up there when, hey, we should get our hands around this and get control of the situation. it made for strange bedfellows. really odd marriages of really different cultures in a way that we had not seen before. tavis: what are you learning so far about walking in the shoes of a wise guy, trying to go good? >> is really an interesting perspective. let's -- try to divorce yourself from me for a moment.
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this is part of my process. reading, talking to individuals, taking in information from whatever quarter i can find it. the attitude is, not speaking for myself, what separates me from law enforcement? nothing. they are just the people with the badges. they do things that are as corrupt and more corrupt than me. they are fighting for theirs. i am here so that i can get what i need for my family. not just my nuclear family, but my "family." that means being the best in business, being -- when i spoke to joe lee, one of the guys who is a consultant for us, he was
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telling me that 70% of what he would do, we were trying to get j. lo tickets when we were in vegas. he said, if i was still working, i would be running around, trying to get you the best tickets i could get you. they are entrepreneurs. it was all about earning and making their place the best place for everybody to come. ironically, a lot of what they did was about goods and services, business. the things that got in the way were any impediment to their business. that could come in a lot of different forms. you say, michael, you cannot go around killing people willy- nilly. part of it is mythology. the mythology we create. if your name is attached to the mythology, you are more likely
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to get the front table. you know what i mean? it is really kind of fascinating to look at all the ways they were able to manipulate things in their favor without actually having to do anything. tavis: did you find the j. lo tickets? >> oh yeah. tavis: i figured joey might have come through with the tickets. what is it about -- there are really two questions that you should not ask at once, but i will anyway. one is, what is it about las vegas that makes it an endless wellspring for storylines? for as long as there has been vegas, there have been movies and tv shows made about vegas. even though we have seen this stuff over and over, it never dries up. >> that is a great question.
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and the second one? >> the 1960's, nowadays, seem to be the same thing. whether it is "mad men," there are a bunch of them, but the 1960's starts to be that era that is kicking out a bunch of new content. >> i will take the second one first. part of it is, it is not so far in the past that it seems like some ancient times. it is one lifetime away from our parents -- it is one lifetime away. our parents grew up in it. you have these vague memories of grandparents dressed in this way. it was also a time where there was still a level of personal freedom that is somewhat lost now. there is a bit of romanticizing
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about that, i think. we talk about it as parents. how we would get on our bicycles in the morning and not come home until nightfall. there was this personal freedom. now we worry about the fact and cloister our children away in a way that is unprecedented. we know they are in this borat. that is a whole different issue. that feeds into it. something about the allure of that time. it was a sexy. . people wore suits to work. the women dressed to the nines, which must have been a pain, frankly. my wife looks at it and says, could you imagine? two or three hours per day just to walk out the door. so there is that. if the other question, vegas -- well, it is the adult disneyland, i guess. ironically, interestingly, i probably should not admit this but i am not a fake this guy. i have been there five times.
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maybe it is because i am a new england boy and the idea of parting with my money so quickly -- i am like a $5 tables guy. i have seen people come up -- i saw a guy lose somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000 in four minutes on the craps table and my knees buckled. i am real world and i think to myself, the neighborhood i grew up in, what that would translate to. that is a college education. it is gone. and he did not even blank. look at the guy. well, he is cooler than me. but it is somewhere where legitimacy meets the darker side and the sinful side. it is a place where you can literally -- well, i cannot let my hair down, but other people can.
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[laughter] think about it. the slogan for the city is "what happens in vegas, stays in vegas." there is an alert to that. tavis: speaking of clustering children, you have a daughter who threw a hissy fit about because there was a chance that she might go away for school as opposed to being a trojan at usc. >> we are close. my family is tight. my oldest just became a freshman at usc. when she got into nyu, we were like, that is a great school, honey. are you going to go? [laughter] as it is, she has moved out of my house. it is a quieter house. autumn is a big presence.
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it led to my wife turning to me and saying, i have got to do something creative. she started a blog called "carpool, couture, and cocktails." the car pool is the mommies side, the couture is the adult -- is the fashion side, and the cocktail's is the adult side. tavis: that is, me is dealing with it. how is daddy dealing with it? >> i am going to a lot of usc football games. tavis: a bunch of footsteps and people start running. >> it is the biggest upside the ackie. played vick m boys are terrified of may. tavis: and you like it.
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look at that. >> it has an upside when you have a daughter. she is a little annoyed by it. we want to spend time together. tavis: how you dealt with being the only male in that house? i have a friend of mine who has three or four daughters. i tease him because i call him the ladies' man. he tried and he could not get a boy. how do you do that? >> i always joke that i was raised in testosterone. now i live in an estrogen house. it is me and my wife, my two daughters and even two female dolls. sensitivity has been beaten into me. i love it, actually. in a way, i have learned a lot through raising daughters. women are highly complex.
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again, i joke with them. i go, you have all these feelings. feelings everywhere. [laughter] men are very simple. i am a simple guy. i do not need much. give me a football game on sunday or a baseball game during the week and i am good. a beer and everything is fine. with girls, you get into these highly-philosophical, complex discussions. really stimulating to raise girls, in particular. to steal a quote from a famous movie, "they have made me a better man." tavis: how the navigated raising two girls in this society and seeing them out into the world. this is a very different world. >> talking and listening. i highly recommend listening. we have one rule in the chiklis
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house. tavis: it is really not a chick- less house. ba-dum-bum. >> if you tell the truth, you do not get in trouble. that is the only rule. tell me the truth and we will make it better. tavis: mom, did you hear that? that, did you hear that? it is way too late now. i told the truth and i still got a be down. but i digress, go ahead. >> it has worked out well. as a consequence, my children come to me with everything. we just talk and i listened to them. knowing their mind is a big deal. you cannot help it, as a parent, to have the instinct to want to off load every lesson you have
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ever learned, in part everything to your children so you end up pontificating a lot, just talking at them and they shut their heads off. i am not saying i am a perfect parent, but i think that one thing my wife and i got right was being engaged, attentive, listening as well as talking and being philosophical with the kids from a very young age and being truthful with them. tavis: the testosterone and estrogen distention notwithstanding, has there been trepidation about growing up in that community, the neighborhood you grew up in back in new england versus trying to raise kids in this environment? particularly in your environment of hollywood, with a father who is a start? >> sure, it poses challenges. autumn is the proverbial apples. she is studying theater and
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wants to be an actress. education is very important. that is why i insisted that she not go right into the pool right away, that she got an education. of course, there are a lot of temptations and everything. it is the same anywhere. you want to arm these children with anything that you can, in part any lesson that you can, talk to them. have a level of trust with them. they learned their lessons well and will make some mistakes. you let go and let them do their thing. that is true anywhere you are. hollywood might have some different challenges. there might be a certain level of -- but i think it is the same anywhere. kids can get into trouble anywhere. tavis: she said that she wanted to be an actor. she had to get an education so she is doing that now. that is what you told her.
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just between the two of us, how did you process your daughter telling us that she wanted the in the business you are in, knowing all that you know about this business? >> when i was 35, my dad and i were having a talk. i turned my father and i said -- he is a grounded birth and american guy from boston. i said, how is it possible that you not only sent me to college but send me to college to become an actor? how did that happen? he fixed me with that look that he gives me and said, "michael, do you think if i did not know it was who you were, i would have allowed it? that is quite a profundity from a working-class guy. it made me cry, actually. a lot of other friends of mine who are actors did not have that kind of support from their
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family. they pushed them out of it or said, you have got to get a real job. it is not a real profession. my father recognize that this is who i was. i think the same is true, as nervous and worried as i am for her, i have seen her and seen her work and flourish. it is just who she is. i cannot stand in front of that. i have to support her. tavis: how do you feel about this new product -- this new project, "vegas?" you got a few good years out of "the shield." >> it could be one of the best things i have ever done, if not the best thing. i do not take that lightly, especially having done "the shield." because of the people involved. this is an outstanding group of people, from the executive producers down to the bus boy.
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i have to give praise to a couple of our producers. arthur and kathy, for being so exacting and precise about the way they produce and the people they put in place. this is the first time i've ever walked on the set of a show and found that every department knew what they were doing. 3000 years worth of collective experience on the set. that is rare. usually, when you first start a television series, this guy is a little lame. you know what i mean? tavis: yeah, i know. just kidding. [laughter] >> there are always the weak links, but this was the smoothest one i have ever seen. there is the collective excitement that we're doing something special. the least-inspired part of the show is the title, frankly, but it is a program. it is vegas, baby, so we went
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with "vegas." tavis: i love your work and i'm glad you're back on. the show is called "vegas." it is on cbs. good to have you on and i am sure you will be back here again. good to see you, man. take care. that is our show for tonight. thanks for tuning in and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with -- join me next time following the third and final presidential debate. that is next time. we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger,
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and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs. >> be more. pbs.
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Tavis Smiley
PBS October 22, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm PDT

News/Business. Michael Chiklis. (2012) Actor Michael Chiklis. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 4, Usc 3, Michael Chiklis 3, Tavis Smiley 2, Pbs 2, U.s. 2, England 2, Hollywood 2, Boston 2, Cbs 2, U.n. 1, The State 1, Willy 1, Nilly 1, Joe Lee 1, Nick 1, Ralph Ilham 1, Ralph Lamb 1, Wto 1, Dennis Quaid 1
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on 10/22/2012